Be­ware of book­ing re­fund poli­cies

Ac­com­mo­da­tion can­cel­la­tions could cost you more than you bar­gained for

Sowetan - - Consumer News - Thuli Zungu Con­sumer Line Tel: (011) 280-3086. E-mail: zungut@sowe­tan.co.za or write to PO Box 6663, Jo­han­nes­burg, 2000

Many ser­vice providers who of­fer hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion are still bat­tling to un­der­stand con­sumers’ rights re­gard­ing the can­cel­la­tion of an ad­vance reser­va­tion.

Some have a can­cel­la­tion pol­icy, but do not abide by their own poli­cies while some do not give the con­sumer his or her copy of the con­tract, and later re­fer the con­sumer to the con­tract upon can­cel­la­tion.

I had a per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence when I tried to can­cel an ad­vanced book­ing I made with a Knysna-based com­pany shortly after wild­fires rav­aged the area.

I can­celled my book­ing on June 9, but the ser­vice provider con­firmed only on Au­gust 15.

They were hell­bent on keep­ing my de­posit un­til they had sold the re­served book­ing, a con­di­tion which was not in­cluded in their pol­icy.

I was even­tu­ally re­funded my de­posit.

Mandla Dlamini, 56, of Katle­hong, is an­other con­sumer with a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence.

He said he wanted to take his grand­child to Dur­ban as he had never been to the sea.

Around Oc­to­ber 9, Dlamini used the in­ter­net and found Cozy Nest.

He booked for seven days and paid a de­posit of R3 000 with­out re­al­is­ing they do not of­fer break­fast.

Dlamini said when he re­alised this three days later, he im­me­di­ately can­celled his ad­vance reser­va­tion.

This was within the coolin­goff pe­riod, but he was told he he might for­feit his de­posit or they might deduct 25% of it.

He said he was not given a copy of the con­tract.

“I was within the five days cool­ing-off pe­riod and could can­cel with­out a penalty,” Dlamini said.

They had charged him R11 500 for seven days.

“All I want is my de­posit and I don’t be­lieve they should be tak­ing any can­cel­la­tion fee when this was never brought to my at­ten­tion when I signed up with them,” Dlamini said.

The Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act states a ser­vice provider can charge a rea­son­able can­cel­la­tion fee, but must also con­sider the na­ture of ser­vices that were re­served and the length of no­tice of can­cel­la­tion pro­vided by the con­sumer.

The act also states that the ser­vice provider must also con­sider the po­ten­tial to find an al­ter­na­tive con­sumer be­tween the time of re­ceiv­ing the can­cel­la­tion and the time of the can­celled reser­va­tion, and the gen­eral prac­tice of the rel­e­vant in­dus­try.

Khany­iswa Peter, the man­ager of Cozy Nest, said Dlamini booked on a non-re­fund­able pol­icy. She said when he called he was told they do not of­fer break­fast during the De­cem­ber hol­i­days, but should he choose to have break­fast they would charge an ad­di­tional fee.

He then can­celled and was ad­vised he should can­cel through book­ing.com where he placed his book­ing.

Khany­iswa Peter, man­ager of Cozy Nest in Dur­ban, says the can­cel­la­tion pol­icy is clear.

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